HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a type of virus which can damage the cells in your immune system thereby weakening your ability to fight infections and diseases. HIV is transmitted from one person to another through contact of semen and/or vaginal fluid, infected blood, having unprotected sex, from using infected needles, syringes, unsterile drug use etc.
Connection between Women and HIV
According to a survey conducted by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in 2014, one in four people who are affected with HIV in the USA is women. Women of all ages, ethnicities, races can get HIV. HIV can pass more easily from men to women rather than from women to men.
10 common symptoms of HIV in women
- Low-Grade Fever
People who are infected with HIV are known to experience a high level of low-grade fever for the prolonged time interval. The temperature between 99.8 degrees Fahrenheit and 100.8-degree Fahrenheit is usually considered as a low-grade fever.
- Sore throat
Women living with HIV may experience fever which is often accompanied by a sore throat and it is not uncommon for women with HIV to experience this symptom. It is usually seen as early symptoms of HIV in women and proper doctor advice is recommended for initial treatment.
- Skin Rashes
Most women with HIV have skin rashes as one of the symptoms. It is a common symptom which can be seen in all HIV infected patients and there are different types of skin rashes which are associated with this condition.
If your experience skin rashes, then it is not the time to get panic since it can be due to normal infection rather than HIV symptoms. Hence, it is always advisable to consult with your health care professional before coming to a judgement.
- Swollen glands
As HIV spreads, the immune system will become and thus resulting in enlarged lymph nodes, commonly referred to as Swollen glands. It is often said that this condition is one of the first signs which indicates that the person may have HIV.
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
Women of all ages affected with HIV might face symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Symptoms of chronic diarrhoea can be seen in some individuals along with severe pain in bowel movements.
- Menstrual changes
Women with HIV usually undergo various menstrual change symptoms like heavy bleeding, periods skipping or could have really bad PMS. Speaking with your doctor can help you to reduce the severity of the condition.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
It is an infection in women’s pelvic areas and it can be early symptoms of HIV in women. The bacteria usually causes infection in areas like women’s vagina, ovaries, uterus. After getting an infection from the bacteria, it normally takes few days to weeks to develop PID.
Some of the symptoms of PID are:
- Severe pain in upper right abdomen
- Painful intercourse
- Night Sweats
Women who have HIV can have the unusual symptoms of night sweats. This is a rare problem which can be rated as a symptom of both early HIV and late HIV.
There are other reasons which can cause night sweats to an individual and does not mean that the women are HIV positive. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult with your doctor before coming to a conclusion point.
- Unusual weight loss
Unusual weight loss is one of the major symptoms of HIV. It is more common in women whose HIV condition cannot be treated. Women who experience weight loss of about 5% is associated with risk of disease progression in the individual. Patients exhibiting unusual weight loss are recommended to consult with the doctor for proper and careful examination
- Yeast infection
Vaginal yeast infection is one of the major symptoms which can be seen in women who are affected with HIV. Sometimes, this symptoms can be the first sign that you might have the virus. Women with Vaginal yeast infection may have the following conditions.
- Severe pain during sex
- White, thick discharge from the vagina
- Pain when you pee
- Soreness in vaginal areas
- Severe itching and burning in vaginal areas.
HIV in lesbians
HIV is a brutal virus which can affect anyone without any preferences of gender, sexual orientation, race or class. HIV can be easily transmitted when an infected blood or vaginal fluids come in contact with women’s mouth, genitals, or with any open cuts in the body. When two women indulge themselves in intercourse, there is a high risk that the vaginal fluids may pass to one another and it should be noted that proper precautions are still recommended during lesbian sex in order to protect both parties from getting affected with the virus.
How to reduce the risk of HIV?
HIV is transmitted from one person to another through transmission of body fluids. Key points to be noted to reduce the risk of having HIV includes:
Not sharing/using the used needles while taking drugs.
- Having safe sex with the proper use of a condom.
- Limiting your number of sexual partners
- Avoiding intercourse when under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Practising safe sex like cleaning the areas can help you to prevent unwanted infections.
How important is to have a regular check on HIV?
If the above symptoms or any other symptoms which are related to HIV are present, and if you are concerned about the possibility of HIV, the first and foremost step would be to get HIV tested. It’s the only way that you can sure if you are infected with the virus or not. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all women between the age of 13 to 64 to get HIV tested at least once irrespective of the risk factor.
All testing related to HIV can be done with utmost confidentiality under the supervision of doctors. All local health departments and renowned resources like HIV.gov offer much-needed information about the testing process and other important information related to HIV.
Medically reviewed by:
Dr Micheal Volberding on 12 December 2018